How To Store Your Mower

HOW TO STORE YOUR MOWER FOR THE COLD SEASON

*An end-of-summer tune-up keeps power lawn equipment in top shape and will ensure a fresh start come cutting season.

Here is a DIY, step by step article on how to store your push mower for the winter. It’s never too late (or early) to make sure your machine will start for you in the spring. Should you wish for MVS to perform this service for you, click the Book Your Service button below to submit a service request.

Gas-powered lawn mowers/tractors take their fair share of abuse during the warm months, so some maintenance at the end of the season—or at the start of spring—is critical in keeping their parts in good working condition. Replacing the oil, spark plugs, and air filters on mowers and applying a bit of elbow grease to grimy recesses, preferably before storing them for the winter, will ensure that they rev up with a pull of the cord next year.

EMPTY THE GAS TANK

Unused gas left in a mower over the winter can get stale, gumming up the carburetor and inviting rust. First, add fuel stabilizer to the tank, then run the mower to distribute it through the system. Turn the mower off and allow the engine to cool, siphon excess gas into a clean can. (You can put this gas in your car, provided it hasn’t been mixed with oil.) Restart the mower and run it until it stops; repeat until the engine no longer starts and the fuel lines are empty.

Switching to 91 or 94 octane gas will eliminate the need for stabilizer, as stabilizer is meant to suspend the ethanol in regular gas, preventing the fuel from going stale. Since premium gasoline contains no ethanol, stabilizer is not required.

If your carburetor is equipped with a drain on the bowl, proceed to remove the plug to allow any remaining fuel left in the bowl, to flow out. Be prepared. Although the amount of fuel will be minimal (a teaspoon or tablespoon), if you do not have something to catch it in, it will flow onto the machine. This is okay and will not harm the equipment. Doing this on a tarp will prevent any fuel from getting on the driveway or grass. Wearing Nitrile Gloves will prevent fuel from getting on your skin. Again, this is a very small amount of fuel, nothing to worry about.

DISCONNECT THE SPARK PLUG

Before continuing with the remaining maintenance steps, it’s very important that you disconnect the spark plug to prevent the mower from kick-starting accidentally, which could lead to serious injury.

REMOVE THE BLADE

To make it easier to change the oil and clean the underside of the mower, first detach the blade by unscrewing the bolts that hold it in place. Be sure to wear thick gloves when handling the blade. While the blade is off, take advantage of the opportunity to sharpen it, or change it.

*Should you have no choice but to turn the mower on its side, remember to keep the carburetor side in the air and try to minimize the amount of time it is turned. Failure to follow these tips could result in starting/running issues.

DRAIN THE OIL

If the mower has a 4-cycle engine, you’ll need to change the oil. (Some mowers and most trimmers have 2-cycle engines, in which the oil is mixed with the gas.) Have a pan ready, and place a tarp under the mower to catch any oil that might spatter. Set the mower on its side with the air filter and carburetor facing up, so oil and residual gas don’t spill into them. Remove the oil reservoir plug and slowly tilt the mower until the oil begins to drain into the pan. Replace the plug when all the oil has drained.

CLEAN THE UNDERCARRIAGE

Use a putty knife and wire brush to scrape off the grass and mud caked on the mower deck. This prevents rust, clears the passageway to the discharge chute, and allows the aerodynamics of the deck to work as designed. With the deck cleaned, reattach the sharpened blade. Once you’ve finished and can turn the mower upright, fill the oil tank with fresh SAE 30 or 30-weight oil (10W30), and recycle the used oil.

CHANGE THE AIR FILTER

A dirty air filter prevents the engine from burning gas efficiently by restricting the air needed for combustion. If your mower has a paper filter, replace it with a new one, paper edges facing out. If it’s an oil-soaked sponge filter, remove it, wash it out with soap and water, allow it to dry completely, and then add a bit of clean oil to it before putting it back. Clear the cooling fins of dirt and debris using a screwdriver or popsicle stick.

REPLACE THE SPARK PLUG

Remove and replace the spark plug, using a socket wrench with a spark-plug socket, which has a neoprene lining to protect the plug’s porcelain casing. Even if the old spark plug is in good shape, for a couple of dollars a new one will perform better and ensure a smooth start come spring.